Obesity: Causes of obesity in adults and the need for surgery

September 12, 2017 Lifestyle Diseases 10381 Views


Obesity is the leading cause of death by preventive diseases. It was formally termed as a global epidemic in 1997 by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to an estimate by WHO, worldwide, more than 1 billion people are overweight. And 300 million of them are clinically obese. In the United States, the adult obesity rate has more than doubled in the last 40 years, reaching 34 percent. These may seem like heavily daunting facts and figures, but unfortunately they are all true. We cannot help but wonder. After all, the obesity has indeed become one of the most dangerous conditions of our age and era.

Obesity is a condition wherein a person’s body accumulates so much fat that it is detrimental to his health. A person is said to be obese when his body mass index (BMI) is above 30. Body mass index is determined by diving a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height. People with a BMI higher than 25 up to 29.5 are considered overweight. Whereas those with a BMI of over 30 are considered obese.

What causes obesity

A high-calorie food diet coupled with an inactive, sedentary lifestyle seems to be the primary cause of obesity. When you consume more calories than you can burn, your body turns these calories into fat reserves which in turn make you gain weight. A diet that is rich in fats and carbohydrates, consists of a lower quantity of fruits and vegetables and more of fast foods and beverages, can be hailed responsible for gaining excessive weight.

Another major cause for obesity can also be genetics. Genetics predispose us to obesity as they determine factors like metabolism (the rate at which our body burns energy from food) and appetite. It also establishes where in our body stores fats the most and the rate at which we can burn the energy through physical exercise. Also, if one or both of your parents are obese, the risk of you being obese is automatically higher. Obesity can also be a result of other diseases and illnesses.

Prader-Willi syndrome, Cohen syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, and hypothyroidism can all lead to obesity.

Certain medications like antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, beta blockers, diabetic medications and steroids can also cause obesity if not followed with a proper routine and diet. Hormonal imbalances such as an excess or lack of certain hormones like leptin (which reports body fat to the brain) and ghrelin (the appetite-stimulating hormone) among others can also cause obesity. Lack of sleep or sleeping too much can also cause such hormonal changes.

When does obesity pose a need for surgery?

Obesity can lead to an array of physical illnesses and diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, gallstones, arthritis and certain types of cancers, thus shortening life expectancy. Being obese can also have psychological impacts on a person. As they may feel extremely self conscious at all times and develop a low self-esteem. It is therefore important to reduce weight in order to lead a healthier life. You can do it by making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet and regular exercise. Weight-loss medication may also prove useful.

However, in certain cases, these treatments may not be sufficient and a person may have to opt for a weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. This happens when a person’s BMI is 40 or higher or when a person has a BMI between 35 and 40 along with health-related problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Some common types of weight loss surgeries are gastric bypass surgery, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) and gastric sleeve surgery.

Surgery can be very helpful; however, it does not guarantee complete weight loss. Some people might even start regaining the weight even post surgery. To avoid this, the person must follow a disciplined regime. Which means regular diets and exercise, if he wants to gain maximum benefits from the surgery.

For more information on how you can lose weight through surgery, contact a bariatric surgeon today.

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